St Michael’s win Eric Apperly Shield

St Michael’s Golf Club has added another major flag to its ever expanding collection of titles with a 4½ – 1½ win over Avondale in the Golf NSW Eric Apperly Shield at Pennant Hills Golf Club in Sydney.

The end result didn’t accurately reflect the closeness of the six man scratch match-play matches, with Avondale pushing St Michael’s, the 2011 winners and current Division 1 Major Pennant champions, to the wire.

St Michael's win 2013 Eric Apperly Shield St Michael’s win the 2013 Eric Apperly Shield (Credit: Anthony Powter)

Jake Baker, playing number 6 for St Michael’s, found himself 1 down thru 5 holes early in the final and was forced to make a number of clutch up and downs to keep Avondale’s Isaac Noh at bay.

Baker took control of the match at the turn, bombing a 285m drive up hill on the 15th at Pennant Hills to set up a birdie and seal the first match 5&3.

As is the case in most inter-club match play encounters it is the team’s bottom order that sets the foundation for a win and when St Michael’s Tim Hyland, playing number 5, scraped through with a 1-up win over Corey Wittenberg, the vital second match had narrowly landed in St Michael’s favour.

Travis Smyth at number 4 for St Michael’s was quick to gain the lead in his match against Alex Henderson and hovered around 2 or 3 up most of the match.

Smyth’s pure ball striking had him at the equivalent of 3-under par when he finished his match on the 16th hole with a solid 3&2 victory.

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Zac Baker from St Michaels won his match against Avondale's Isaac Noh, 5&3 in the Golf NSW Eric Apperly Shield final at Pennant Hills Golf Club, Sydney (Photo: Anthony Powter)

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At this stage of the final, St Michael’s had secured three wins from the first three matches, yet Avondale’s top-order were not giving in.

Ryan Smith, playing number three for Avondale, pushed Shawn Cameron to the 18th after a stellar birdie win on the 17th.

The 18th at Pennant Hills is a tricky up-hill par 3 that requires anything from a mid to long iron depending upon conditions.

It was this hole that would prove a stern test as Cameron landed safely on the green after Smith had pulled his tee shot into a green side bunker.

It would prove the final’s turning point after Avondale’s number one, Matt Wittenberg had accounted for Ben Clementson, 5&4, and Harrison Endycott and Zac Mullins, playing number two, were all square in a terrific encounter on the 17th.

Smith was unable to get up and down Cameron had secured the vital 4th match and victory for St Michael’s.

This was a very close final between the seasoned St Michael’s team, which included members of the winning 2013 Division 1 Major Pennant team, against the upcoming Avondale lineup.

St Michael’s arguably has the leading junior development program, lead by head coach John Serhan and his team, with vital support from Murray Clover and Gerard Raper.

The investment in its junior ranks has paid dividends with the club winning three Division 1 Major Pennant Flags, two Junior Pennant Flags and two Eric Apperly Shields in the last four years.

Avondale sits in Division 2 of the Sydney Major Pennant series, having narrowly missed claiming their sectional flag this season.

They are a club, like St Michael’s, that has invested heavily in junior development and with the fight and spirt Avondale displayed in yesterday’s final, the Club’s turn on the podium is sure to come.